I know a lot of people are disappointed in the lack of activity from the Cardinals during this off-season. They take a lot of criticism for being cheap, in not going after high profile free agents. I think it's still too early to consider this off-season unsuccessful, or to brand the front office as being cheap. The Cardinals have thrown big money at players in recent years and gotten nothing for it. Mark Mulder was given 14 million for two years and won exactly zero games. Chris Carpenter's been making more than 10 million a year the past two seasons, and has pitched a grand total of 20 innings. They spent 18 million for two years on Jim Edmonds, only to discover that his best days are long behind him. They've been paying Jason Isringhausen 10 million a season, and he's been terribly ineffective. Who could blame them for being a little gun shy at this point. They could have saved tens of millions of dollars by going with younger, less expensive players from their system and probably gotten more production. That's not to say that you can always count on rookies and young players to out-perform the established veterans, but I can't blame them for wanting to try it another way, especially in this current economic climate. If the Cardinals can find a way to add one more solid starting pitcher to the mix they should have enough talent to contend for the division, or at least a wildcard spot. Don't write them off yet. If some of their young players like Chris Perez, Jason Motte, Todd McClellan, Colby Rasmus, Brendan Ryan, etc., continue to develop as projected, it could be the smartest thing the Cardinals did this off-season was to not overpay for aging, veteran free agents whose contracts can paralyze a payroll.